Tractor versus Coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by wolfandfinch, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. wolfandfinch

    wolfandfinch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 5, 2011
    Vancouver BC
    Can someone explain the difference to me and why you would want one over the other? I found nothing in the stickies. Thanks!
  2. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    a tractor is a run that can be easily (or not so easily [​IMG]) moved around the yard. A run is just a location for the birds to congregate outside the coop. Some are enclused fully others are just a short fence.

    People use tractors when they want the birds to have access to fresh grass but don't want them or can't have them free range. Either because of location or predators or because staying in one place perminantly usually leads to a muddy pit.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Tractor: moveable, with the implication it will be moved frequently.
    Stationary coop: permanently in one place.
    (there are also a few coops that people drag from 1 location to another every year or so, but that is pretty uncommon and not relevant to most BYCers situations)

    Tractor pros: chickens can always have fresh grass, grass is not killed
    soil does not get packed or poo-poisoned
    minimal if any worm egg buildup
    can move according to seasonal changes, e.g. shady locations in hot weather, sun the rest of the year
    can be used to let chickens work over garden plots
    often cheaper to build

    Tractor cons: can never be as predatorproof as a fixed coop can, and some are *very* non predatorproof
    can never be as large as a fixed coop can, most are suitable for only 3-6 chickens (other than
    more-crowded meat-chicken tractors)
    cannot be very satisfactorily winterized in serious-winter climates; some tractors are hard to
    winterize even for modest winters
    it is only moveable if ground permits, meaning during mud or snow season it may be stationary
    whether you like it or not
    electricity dependant on (not entirely safe) extension cords; can't plumb in water except by
    running a hose
    may have to get moved a lot more frequently than you expect (e.g. every day) and even then
    you are likely to have a visible "tractor trail" across your lawn, involving scratched-down
    turf and poo deposits.

    Stationary coop pros:
    can be any size you want, tiny to huge, for any number of chickens and as much space-allowance
    per chicken as you want
    can be really seriously pretty predatorproof if you desire
    can be built to provide really good wintering conditions no matter how severe your winter
    can run proper hardwired safe electricity, and even a water faucet, if desired
    walk-in coops can easily be converted to other uses e.g. playhouse, workshop, storage, goats, etc
    if needs change

    Stationary coop cons:
    often built more expensively (even for the same size coop), although that is not strictly *necessary*
    unless run is *enormous*, it will go to bare earth and get muddy and stomped-down and poor soil quality
    worm eggs will eventually build up in the run to some degree or another
    difficult or impossible to take with you if you move to another property

    In my opinion, being as I feel that except in unusual circumstances chickens really deserve to have a lot more space than most BYCers allow (because they really do behave differently at larger space allowances), I am not a fan of tractors except as "day tractors" or if they house only a few chickens. (The largest practical size of tractor, even if you're doing it hoop style, is around 10x15 or so, and that won't work well for many people... and personally I would not put more than 6-8 chickens in there and not for a Northern winter or where there's lotsa predators around. Personally I would not put more than 2-3 chickens in a 4x8 tractor and that's IF the indoor part is up above the run so that total square footage is greater than the footprint. Of course others may feel differently, I'm just stating my own feelings here)

    I am particularly not a fan of tractors used as winter housing in Northern climates. It can be done in the sense of the birds can pull through but it is not easy on the chicken owner and it is certainly not easy on the *chickens*, and IMO should be avoided if at *all* possible.

    OTOH in a year-round mild climate where good predator protection comes from other sources and chickens are going to be kept in small (rather than large) groups, there are definitely a lot of advantages to a tractor; or for summer-only use for very small flocks in the North.


    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  4. wolfandfinch

    wolfandfinch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 5, 2011
    Vancouver BC
    Wow, thank you SO much for such detailed and useful responses. Much appreciated!
  5. OkChickens

    OkChickens Orpingtons Are Us

    Dec 1, 2010
    Owasso, Oklahoma
    I personally have 2 coops. First I have a 20x35 coop with a 15x35 run. I use this for my "General Flock" which consists of EE's, RIR's, and Buffs. I will divide my coop in 2 or 3 sections this spring. One side for my general flock whick I sell fertile eggs and the other side for Egg production from my White Leghorns.

    My second coop is 8x10 A-Frame coop that has tin sides and a 8x24 foot run. I will remodel this with plywood sides and making it 8x12. My Egg Layers are in here for now (White Leghorns). I will move these in my big coop when I finish the dividing it. Then I will put the plywood sides on the A-Frame coop. I will order "meat birds" Cornish X about 20 or so.

    I have thought about building a Chicken Tractor for my meat birds. I decided against it for predators, coyotes, opossums, coons, snakes, and also dogs.

    I much prefer coops than tractors for the safety reasons.

  6. hallerlake

    hallerlake Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 30, 2010
    I have an A-frame tractor. I move it most days. It is adequate for our weather here in the PNW. It is small, so I only have four birds. My girls seem healthy and happy. They are laying most days in spite of it being the dark time of year. I do some free ranging, but can't have them out all the time on account of the eagles. They get the best of both worlds. They're outside, but safe. I shut them into the upper portion at night. An A-frame is a good way to start out. It's a small investment in case keeping chickens doesn't work out for you. You can always get a bigger coop later, and keep the tractor for isolating birds or raising chicks, or something. I hope to get a bigger coop one of these days. Or I may just get another tractor.

  7. DVTO2

    DVTO2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 10, 2010
    I built a tractor last spring but it's probably a bit bigger and substantial than most tractors at 4' by 8' for the coop and 5' x 16' for the run. I keep seven hens in there but probably have space for a few more. It takes my subcompact tractor to move it so it's not the kind one can easily push around the yard every day. The covered run has wheels that can be tilted into place and I can move that by just pushing it. That being said, the chickens get fresh grass once a week or so and I haven't lost a single bird this year, and I have have every kind of predator. You can see the coop and some stages of the build process on my page. If you can design enough space and comfort for the birds, they can have the best of both worlds with a tractor - the safety of a fixed coop and run and the fresh pasture that free range birds get. There are quite a few folks who free range during the day in my area, and I think they all lose birds, sometimes all of them.

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:Ok, it's not often that I really drool over a chicken housing setup. [​IMG]

  9. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I just want to add to what Pat said- that my chickens really FLY through the air from one end of my large fenced area to the other sometimes, squawking with glee!

    If they were in a tractor, they couldn't do that. But, certainly being in a tractor is important if they would be taken out by predators otherwise!!! Better to be alive!!!

    That is why I have my silkies in a dog kennel (which I move around like a tractor although the coop- chick n hutch- is inside it). I wanted them separated from the others, but safe and moveable.

    So I have a kind of tractor and coops/yards. I wish all the time that I could move my chickens ALL out into tractors so they could get some grass.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  10. JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom

    JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2009
    West Central WI
    Summers we pasture in electronet. A large area (at least 1/2 acre, we have lots of birds in summer) is surrounded with 42" high electrically charged netting that the chickens have been taught to think impassable (honest, they do not often fly over even though I know they can). This keeps them out of the neighbors fields and my garden and protects them from predators. We use human-slidable hoop houses for overnight/weather shelters.

    with a tarp. We have 4-5 of various sizes. The birds are shut up in the shelters at night to protect against owls. They are let out into the enclosed area during the day.

    Occasionally a young rooster will behave badly and need to stay in a hut round the clock to isolate him from the others. In these situations it works like a "chicken tractor".

    So in the summer we have no manure clean-up at all. Just slide the hut to a clean spot. When the pasture looks "tired" move the whole kit and kaboddle to a new spot (we are on a large country place). Electronet is expensive, but has held up well over several seasons.

    Winter quarters here are an insulated coop-room in a pole shed. I would never try to over-winter here in the hoop houses.
    It gets to -30F for a week at a time. The electronet would be grounded by the 3 ft of snow so no predator protection. Just not good.

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